Russia-Ukraine War: What We Know on Day 81 of the Invasion | Ukraine

Russia-Ukraine War: What We Know on Day 81 of the Invasion |  Ukraine

  • A large convoy of hundreds of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city Zaporizhia on Saturday night after waiting days for Russian troops to allow them to withdraw, Reuters reports. Ukraine has been gradually evacuating civilians from the devastated city for more than two months.

  • Ukraine has ridden a wave of emotional support from Europeans to win the 66th Eurovision Song Contest. which took place in Turin, Italy, on Saturday evening. Kalush Orchestra’s Stefania took first place after strong performances from the UK, Spain and Sweden in the early voting. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory and promised to one day hold the final in a “free, rebuilt” Mariupol.

  • US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined the growing list of US politicians visiting Kyiv. Zelenskyi welcomed McConnell’s visit as a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine.

  • Zelenskiy also thanked President Joe Biden for signing into law this week an update to the World War II-era Lend-Lease Act. This allows for faster US production and delivery of arms and ammunition to allies engaged in conflicts in which it is not directly involved.

  • Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, says his country’s diplomats in Washington DC are being threatened with violence and harassed by US intelligence agencies. This is reported by Reuters, citing the Russian news agency Tass.

  • Finland’s President, Sauli Niinist√∂, Vladimir Putin said that Helsinki plans to join NATO. Niinist√∂ broke the news during a phone conversation with the Russian leader.

  • Putin said it was a mistake to abandon neutrality and that there are no threats to Finland’s security at this time. Russia has called Helsinki’s NATO bid a hostile move that would “definitely” pose a threat – to which Moscow will respond.

  • Ukraine says Moscow plans to hold a referendum on whether Mariupol wants to become part of Russia, perhaps as early as Sunday. News of a similar poll in the breakaway region of Georgia follows South Ossetia and claims by Western allies that Russia is planning mock referendums to justify military action.

  • Russian troops have withdrawn from the Kharkiv urban area, its mayor Ihor Terekhov said. He said that “due to the efforts of Kharkiv’s territorial defense and Ukrainian armed forces, the Russians retreated far from the city area towards the Russian border.”

  • The war will be over by the end of 2022, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service said. Major General Kyrylo Budanov claimed Moscow had suffered heavy casualties and forecast a turning point by mid-August – adding that “most active combat operations will be completed by the end of this year”.

  • Moscow is missing its political goals in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said. The fact that Russia has only succeeded in imposing a pro-Russian local leadership in the city of Kherson “demonstrates the failure of the Russian invasion to make progress towards its political goals,” according to the latest intelligence update.

  • “Very difficult negotiations” on the next phase of evacuation from Mariupol are underway, Zelenskyy said. The last Ukrainian defenders of the city are entrenched in the Azovstal Steel Works.

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